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Lowering the Bar


As far as
Tony Perez's
Hall
of Fame credentials
go,
here's another way to look at it:

Was anybody outside of Cincinnati a Tony Perez fan while he was active?
You know, little kids emulating his stance around the schoolyard?
Cherishing his baseball cards?

I don't think so. The same goes for Phil Rizzuto, too....

Good grief. Hall of Famers should be drawing support from everyone, in
baseball and out, especially while active--not just from former teammates
30 years down the line.

--CF

Outstanding! Excellent rule of thumb for consideration to the Hall.

–Gary Huckabay

Lynched


I think most people are missing the point about
Ed
Lynch's failure as Cubs GM
,
which is a complicated thing. First, when you evaluate Lynch's moves
one by one, it's actually a really good picture. In the vast
majority of his deals you can say that he got good return. As for
Matt Karchner-for-Jon Garland and signing Joe Girardi
to a three-year contract, sure those were serious blunders, but how many
GMs can you name who don't have similar blemishes on their records?

Still, Lynch was a bad GM, but it really boils down to "the vision
thing." Sure, he was able to turn Brant Brown into Jon
Lieber
,
but he never seemed
to make moves with any sort of coherent plan, either in the short-term
or the long-term. There was never any indication that he understood the
team's current shortcomings, nor any indication that he had a plan beyond next
week. It seemed that if the team had a bad week giving up runs, that he
would run out and trade for pitching. If the team had a bad week scoring
runs, we would go out and trade for hitting. All trees, no forest.

What's scary to savvy Cubs fans is that it has always been like this, and
it leads me to believe that the cluelessness is systemic in the Cubs
organization. Getting rid of Lynch was treating the symptom, not the disease.

--DG

I can agree with that assessment of Lynch. He wasn’t the worst in the league
at making trades of opportunity, but you’ve got to dislike his track record
of filling the holes in his team. Frequently, he did it with Lance
Johnson
/Joe Girardi
types, which is a serious problem.

It’s nice to fleece a doofus competing GM from time to time. But many of
the Cubs’
problems during the Lynch regime were notable for nothing other than the
ineptitude with which they were handled, and that’s just a recipe for
disaster.

–Dave Pease


I have a minor quibble with the following quote of yours in your latest
NL
Central Notebook
:
"Throw in the fact that Ken Griffey took way below market
value to come to Cincinnati in the first place, and his priorities look
pretty refreshing compared to your standard-issue major leaguer."

I agree that Junior made a genuine "good guy" offer to defer some
of his pay
to keep Barry Larkin in a Reds uniform. But...and this is
significant IMO, "the
fact that he took way below market value..." Bovine manure...where in the
world do you think he would have gone besides his hometown?

--RP

Come on now, that’s Griffey’s call. He limited his own options by deciding
that
he’d only play for the Reds, but are you seriously implying that no other team
wanted him and was willing to give him more money? Seattle had a deal for more
than $17M per on the table for him. Griffey ended up with quite a bit less
than
that, especially counting the deferred money.

I have heard stories about Griffey being an ass in person. I’m sure we all
have.
But even after he decided that the only place he’d play was Cincinnati, he
still
signed a great deal for the Reds. If he’d have wanted to play somewhere else,
I’m sure they would have been accomodating.

Finally, I didn’t mean to imply that Griffey is a good guy. I’m unqualified to
make that statement. But I like to see someone who seems willing to take
some control of their situation, even if they end up paying part of a
teammate’s
salary out of their own pocket.

–Dave Pease

Catch the Damn Ball


What about Carlos Febles's
defense
at second base
?
Whenever I read any scout discussing Carlos, they
rave about outstanding range and claim the only reason he is at second base
is his arm.

--MG

I didn’t include Febles in the top 10 for a couple of
reasons. Specifically, he looks like he’s been playing injured.
I haven’t been able to get a big enough sample, either viewing
or statistically, to make that call.

–Gary Huckabay


I enjoyed the article on second basemen, and am looking forward to
the rest of the series. But how about some special mention of alleged
Minnesota second baseman Jay Canizaro? He deserves to be listed in a
category unto himself.

With the Twins organization (and broadcasters) falling all over
themselves insisting to us that Canizaro represents a major defensive
upgrade on Todd Walker, the
erstwhile Giant has posted a Range Factor of 3.99 and a Zone Rating of
.708 in 50 games, several zip codes removed from his nearest competitor
in each category (Luis Alicea's 4.63 and Chuck Knoblauch's
.768,
respectively).

For comparison's sake, Walker has a career Range Factor of
4.56 and a career Zone Rating of .812.

--PS

That’s bloody awful. I haven’t had a chance to
adequately observe Canizaro, at least not since he was with
Shreveport about six years ago. I take it he’s not exactly
Bobby Grich to the naked eye, either.

Then again, Tom Kelly’s probable preference for the position is
probably Dick Green, Jim Gantner or some other seasoned veteran
with a gaping hole or nine in their offensive game.

–Gary Huckabay


I enjoyed your article on
the
problems of evaluating defense
,
and agree that it's a far more difficult effort than evaluating offense.
It seems the best
approach would be to use multiple measures as you suggest. One of the more
promising measures I've come across, though, seems to have disappeared from
view: defensive average. As I remember, DA assigned each position a zone
of responsibility and divided the number of outs made by the player by the
number of balls hit into his zone. This metric wasn't perfect, either:
assigning zones can be in the eye of the beholder, and handling plays
made outside of the zone was unclear. But it was
a metric that got to the heart of what defenders are supposed to do: turn
batted balls into outs.

Why is this statistic not used more often?

--DT

Defensive Average is probably the best thing out there
for evaluating defense. Its zones of responsibility are well
designed for measuring defense, and it handles the issues of
unclear responsibility exceptionally well. Unfortunately, it hasn’t
been around for several years. (Or if it has, I haven’t seen it.)

Sherri Nichols, who knows more about baseball than people on ESPN
have ever dreamed of, used to create Defensive Average based on
data collected by, I believe, Pete DeCoursey. Sherri has since
moved on to other projects, focused on not doing a load of
thankless work for no recompense. (Alas, this means she’s unqualified
to work for BP.)

I recommend a letter-writing campaign to get Sherri Nichols to resume
her excellent work on defensive average. To make the campaign more
effective, we need to include a comprehensive set of Dead President
Trading Cards. I haven’t spoken to Sherri or Dave in several years, but
I expect that we can probably trade 6-7 Salmon P. Chases (actually a bank
president) for 3 Lincolns and a year’s worth of Defensive Average.

–Gary Huckabay

Midseason Awards


Regarding
your
appointment of Jeff Tam as AL Rookie of the Year
,
please consider the following:

A player shall be considered a rookie unless, during a previous season or
seasons, he has

  • exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major
    Leagues; or

  • accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major
    League club or clubs during the period of 25-player limit (excluding time
    in the
    military service and time on the disabled list).

This is the definition of a "rookie" according to Major League
Baseball.

According to other sources, it has been confirmed with Oakland's front
office that Jeff Tam has exceeded the 45 days allowed while with the Mets and
Indians, even though he has not exceeded innings pitched.

--TD, and many other Ben Molina fans

Baseball Weekly and the Elias Sports Bureau both list Tam as a
rookie. Serves us right for
depending on their listings…

With Tam ineligible for the award, you may like the results of a staff
re-vote even less. I’d probably pick Molina right now, but that’s mainly
due to
the impassioned arguments I got from Angels fans everywhere. Overall,
my guess is that the staff would support Terrence Long for the award;
he also plays an important defensive position well, and he’s been more
productive at the plate.

Thanks for keeping us honest,

–Dave Pease


No one on your staff even could even spare a single
MVP vote for Frank Thomas, the best player on the team
with the best record?

He is currently sixth in OPS in the AL (fifth in slugging and
sixth in OBP). He also is tied for second in HR, eighth in
RBIs, sixth in runs, 10th in hits, third in walks (first in
IBB), and fifth in total bases. I'm not claiming he is
the MVP right now, although he might be by the end of
the year, but he should have gotten at least one third-
place vote.

--BP

Why? Thomas is the third-best player at his nominal position in the
AL–clearly behind Carlos Delgado and Jason Giambi at first
base. To vote for Thomas, one of us would have had to have our ballot
Giambi-Delgado-Thomas,
and that’s not going to happen with all the great performances at other
positions we’re seeing this year.

If we consider him a DH, he’s behind Edgar Martinez and he also has
zero defensive value. Come to think of it, even when playing first
base, zero defensive value might be something to strive for for the
Big Hurt.

Thomas might make my top 10, but he’d be behind everyone we voted for,
and some players (like Darin Erstad–how’s that, Angels fans?)
that we didn’t.

–Dave Pease

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